Bubba Mod, quick Saturday project for Squier 51

Discussion in 'Squier Vintage Modified models' started by Michael7, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    I bought a 51 a couple of months ago in Calif and barely played it before taking it apart and shipping it home. I did not like the bridge saddle arrangement, which has the top-load strings coming in under the saddles before going up through the eye and then pushing them down under string tension. Lots of people complain they are buzzy, I didn't play it enough to confirm that, but I knew I wanted to change it. Fortunately, the Bubba Mod is an option that can be done to lots of bridges and allows the installation of Tele barrel saddles.

    First thing is to order a set of Tele saddles. I got the compensated ones, to minimize the intonation issues that plain barrels are known for. These were $12. After a test fitting, I could see that the B-E barrel needed a longer screw to get the high E at 25.5" scale length, which I could not find locally (M3 x .5mm) in the right length, but then found I had one from a Tele bridge I had replaced.

    Note that the center barrel of the new set is slightly different from the outer 2, so that the proper stair-step location of the saddle break edges occurs.

    The mod consists of drilling 3 holes in between the stock bridge plate's 6 intonation screws. The first thing I did was add some tape with the edge the desired distance from the top edge of the bridge heel, marking the new hole locations. I'm picky about such things, so I didn't just wing it the locations.

    Then I mounted the bridge in my machinist vise, using wood blocks to keep from damaging the chrome. I used a pointed grind stone from my selection to put 3 dimples where the holes needed to be. These were to help align the drill bit to avoid wander, which is inevitable on hard metal if you don't do some kind of divot to center the bit. I even intentionally made the center hole slightly higher to allow for the neck curvature, but that was just me being anal.

    I have a drill press, but it was easier in this case to just use my lightest battery drill motor and a small bit to drill through the plate. The beauty of this is that one can angle the drill a tad to compensate for it wanting to walk this way or that. I kept dabbing light oil on the holes to keep the bit lubed.

    After penetrating with the small bit, I went up to the .125" size that was just right for clearing the intonation screws. Used oil again here. Then I used a slightly larger bit on both sides of the bridge heel to remove any rough edges.

    It came out great, looks very professional, and the great thing is that I can always go back to 6 saddles at any time.

    I know this mod can be done to bridges other than the 51. I hope the old timers here forgive the level of detail, but I hope it may be useful to a newbie considering this kind of mod.

    2007-01-21 22.44.39.jpg 2007-01-21 22.59.48.jpg 2007-01-21 23.08.58.jpg 2007-01-21 23.50.36.jpg 2007-01-22 00.20.45.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
    MI redneck, Moozy, Mr Bones and 13 others like this.
  2. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    52
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    Nice work
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  3. squierTony

    squierTony Dr. Squier

    Age:
    47
    Jul 4, 2012
    MAUD Oklahoma
    I love That mod. I did it on my affinity tele. 20150623_202746.jpg
     
    JurnyWannaBe, Moozy, Mr Bones and 5 others like this.
  4. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Thanks, it was easy and fun, and the bridge looks cool, plus I'm sure I'll get more downward string pressure. I gotta get the guitar back together soon, but waiting for a few paint repairs to dry and then finish off.
     
  5. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Nice job Tony. I prefer those rounded, finished screw heads on yours, gotta find some of those. I think I'm going to start using Fender Bullet strings on these top-loaders, I think the bullet ends will fit nicer in the string hole and maybe add something to the sound.
     
  6. Hammer 4

    Hammer 4 Dr. Squier

    Apr 14, 2015
    San Pedro, Ca.
    Nice work Micheal...Looks good!! BTW, how is the paint on that yeller body coming along..?
     
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  7. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Thanks Greg!

    Don't ask about the yellow First Act. I thought I had sanded it enough and then clear coated it. Now I have encapsulated the orange peel for all time....I don't think I have it in me to redo it. It looks ok from 10 feet!

    I've kind of set aside the project for a while, being unhappy with the paint and having had another problem with how I was going to redrill and reshape the head stock. I'll get back to it eventually, but have not had my heart in it lately, plus have been under the weather for a couple of weeks.
     
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  8. mdparent03

    mdparent03 Squier-holic

    May 6, 2013
    Beaumont, CA
    That's an awesome job you did there Michael. If I didn't care about the color of brass on my black '51 I would have done that too. I just went the easy way out and bought another bridge......LOL ;)
    IMAG0176.jpg
     
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  9. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    MDP03,

    That all black 51 looks super! I have the GFS bridge too, but figured if I can make the stock bridge dual-purpose, then I'd save the GFS for another project. It is a nice piece.

    I did buy another bridge too, shown below, that I thought would work on the 51, but the bridge plate is a bit too small. It is kind of like the "hammer" bridge used on early MIJ Bullets.

    As I mentioned in another thread, the 51 has to be the softest wood guitar ever built. Both my bridge and neck plate have made obvious divots in the surfaces. Here's a couple of photos showing that. I point it out in case anyone else is looking for a bridge. As far as I know, only the stock one and the GFS would fully cover the impression in the guitar's face, so a smaller bridge would reveal the sunken spot around its perimeter. s-l1600.jpg 2007-01-22 00.04.33.jpg 2007-01-22 00.19.30.jpg
     
  10. guitar guy

    guitar guy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    34
    Nov 3, 2010
    Tampa Bay Area
    I'll be modding mine out soon. Want to finish the Mockingbird first.
     
  11. Andrew Fatula

    Andrew Fatula Squier Talker

    I really need to get the ball rolling on doing this mod to my 51' & Tele. Great work!
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  12. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Thanks! If it was useful, then I'm glad I did the write-up.
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  13. FredJr

    FredJr Squier Talker

    18
    May 18, 2012
    Prospect, CT
    This looks good. I think given some patience I could pull this off.
     
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  14. Artofhunger

    Artofhunger Squier Talker

    Age:
    45
    12
    Nov 24, 2017
    Philadelphia
    I think I just bought this bridge. Do you think it would not pose a problem if the 51 was being refinished anyway? I bought it figuring i could put it on my squier mustang as well
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  15. Kenneth Mountain

    Kenneth Mountain Squier-Axpert

    Great thread M7 ! Looks Great !
     
  16. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Thanks Ken! This is a real oldie, but I'm happy if folks still refer to it and find it useful. It was the helpful folks on this site that got me trying modding guitars, so anything I can do to help others is just paying it forward.
     
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  17. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    I'm sorry, but I don't really understand your first question. I do think you could put this bridge on almost any hard tail top load guitar which has the same string spacing, but the mounting screw holes may not be a perfect match to the old holes in the body.
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  18. Artofhunger

    Artofhunger Squier Talker

    Age:
    45
    12
    Nov 24, 2017
    Philadelphia
    I assumed you thought it too small because the old bridges poly indent would show. Thanks for the reply. I’ll probably just bubba mod the 51.
     
  19. DirtyFingers82

    DirtyFingers82 Squier Talker

    Age:
    44
    4
    Apr 28, 2020
    Ont
    @Michael7 what bridge is mdparent03 have on his guitar can you find me a link?
     
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  20. DirtyFingers82

    DirtyFingers82 Squier Talker

    Age:
    44
    4
    Apr 28, 2020
    Ont
    Where did you find this bridge ?
     
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